Mother missing after East Point apartment fire claims life of young girl, injures 2nd girl

A young girl is dead, her mother unaccounted for, and a second young girl was rushed to the hospital after a fire gutted an East Point apartment building the day before Thanksgiving.

East Point city spokeswoman Renita T. Shelton gave a grim update on the apartment fire around 7 p.m. Wednesday as firefighters doused hot spots and continued their search and rescue efforts.

Just after 3 p.m., a resident of the Polaris East Point Apartments, formerly Brookfield Apartments, located at 3072 Washington Road called 911 to report a fire spreading between apartment units. Firefighters say they arrived at the scene to find heavy smoke coming from one of the buildings towards the back of the complex.

Evacuations were well underway as firefighters began to battle the blaze. After an aggressive attack, firefighters were able to begin search and rescue operations safely. That is when officials say they found the body of a young girl in an upper apartment.

A witness told firefighters that girl’s mother was also believed to have been in the apartment at the time of the fire. Officials say she is currently unaccounted for. Firefighters say they will continue their search and rescue operations for as long as they can.

"All we know is that from what we were told by people on the scene that there was another person that was in the apartment and we believe that person was the mother," said Shelton.

Officials say a second young girl, who was outside the building, suffered fire-related injuries and was rushed to an area hospital. That girl’s condition was not immediately available.

"Well it is very difficult, not only because of the time of the year, but because of the age of the fatality and the other little girl, and the possibility that the person unaccounted for is the mother. This is not the outcome that we look for, but we have to keep going, we have to keep pressing, but I can tell you that it is very touchy, yes, and it's very trying," said Shelton.

Both girls appear to be under the age of 10. Neighbors say the two young girls are sisters, but officials could not confirm that. 

East Point firefighters battle a deadly apartment fire on Nov. 23, 2022.

East Point firefighters battle a deadly apartment fire on Nov. 23, 2022. (Used with permission)

The identities the girls or the woman were not immediately known. 

Residents recall trying to rescue young girls from East Point apartment fire

Just moments after the fire broke out at the complex, several residents tried what they could to help their neighbors escape the blaze.

"I just looked up and I saw the fire coming from one of the bedroom window," said Lisa Hazley.

Hazley lives in the complex. She says she sprang into action trying to save those inside. 

"I threw my car in park and ran up the stairs and banged on the doors. I got burned a little bit. My sweater got burned," Hazley said. "They were able to grab one of the babies, and I kept saying, ‘There’s another one.’ They are twins and she didn’t make it. I tried." 

The building had a total of eight units, seven of which were occupied at the time of the fire. Officials say the building is a complete loss with the roof having collapsed in during the fire.

"I see them all the time. Almost every day. Leaving the apartment….they were a sweet family," one resident said.

Video shows moments before firefighters arrived at deadly East Point apartment fire

It took just minutes for firefighter to arrive at the scene following the 911 calls about Wednesday's apartment fire, but already thick black smoke was billowing into the air as the flames swept through the burning building.

"I’ve never seen a building engulfed like that," said Sherri Pitts, who lives in the complex.

Cellphone video shared with FOX 5 shows flames shooting from the upper window of one of the apartments. 

One woman who lived in the build described the scene.

"It was a whole bunch of water, smoke and I saw a fire in the kitchen," the woman said.

Many residents say their hearts are heavy going into what should be a celebratory weekend.

"It broke everyone. Everyone just broke down because they said, ‘Oh my goodness. Firefighters are crying,'" Pitts said. "This is just a bad moment for everyone."

The fire was so intense, the East Point Fire Department asked for assistance from the city of College Park and South Fulton.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.